In Brussels the blame game has begun

Angus Walker

Former ITV News Correspondent

Theresa May's speech is not going down well in Brussels.

There's a sense that her words on Friday are finger pointing by the UK Government ahead of another lost vote in the Commons on the deal struck by the prime minister.

In her speech she’s expected to say "the decisions that the European Union makes over the next few days will have a big impact on the outcome of the vote".

But in Brussels there's a rejection of any plea for the EU to bend and accommodate the UK’s domestic political needs.

"We only have one red line, that is we will not undo, for the sake of Brexit, the Union system," Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator talks, told MEPs on Thursday evening.

  • We're "not in the blame game," the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier tells reporters in Brussels

One diplomat told me on Friday that the EU has always negotiated with goodwill and there was no place for blame games.

A senior official suspects this speech will wipe out any remaining sympathy for Theresa May among EU leaders.

Stephen Barclay and Geoffrey Cox have been in Brussels. Credit: PA

Talks are continuing, but what Brexiter MPs would want to get from the negotiations have been soundly rejected.

Ideas for a time limit or a unilateral exit from the backstop are dead.

Work continues around a beefed-up independent review body which would decide when the UK could exit the backstop.

It's unlikely to be enough to persuade opponents of the PM’s deal that she’s got the "legally binding changes" to the Divorce Deal.

An expected return to Brussels today by the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay is now not happening. The clearest sign that there hasn’t been sufficient progress in these last minute talks.

I'm told things are "fluid" but they’re not flowing in the direction the UK wants. Relations between the UK and the EU are, arguably, at their lowest point since negotiations began.